family travel airport

Random, Useful, Fun Travel Tips

Whether you’ll be traveling in the next few weeks or have plans for a trip over the Holidays, it’s always a good time for travel tips. Start thinking because you’ll have an opportunity to share your favorite travel tips.

family travel airport

No Room for Air

Sure, you can find cheap plane tickets, but you’ll pay many extra fees if you don’t stay aware. Thankfully, most airlines still allow one free carry-on bag. The way to win this game is to make the most of that one fee-free bag using the sit-and-zip packing method to create more room in your suitcase:

Get a stack of gallon-size zip-lock bags. Take an item of clothing and fold it lengthwise. Roll it up tightly like a tube. Put it in a zip bag. Do not zip it closed. Instead, place the open bag on a chair or bed and sit hard on it to expel the air. You can up two or even three things for smaller items in a single bag. While still seated, zip the bag to seal. Note: This works best for clothing not prone to wrinkles—synthetics like nylon, polyester, and rayon.

Start at the Corners

Imagine your luggage as a grocery bag. Whether you have a rolling suitcase or a duffle, weight should be evenly distributed so as not to become too top-heavy. That is why bulkier items such as shoes should be tucked into the bottom corners and sides of the luggage.

Read Reviews

User-review sites have changed how most people plan their travel, giving us an enormously useful tool for evaluating hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions, and the like. is the big kahuna, with more than 250 million candid reviews, mostly of hotels, also less traditional lodging like B&Bs, villas, and private homes, as well as restaurants and attractions.

Get on the Bus, Gus

Traveling by bus is not as uncivil as it used to be. So before you rush to book a flight or train for short hops, check out the local bus service. These days buses are often new and clean, with unexpected perks like free wi-fi and outlet access, for starters. And no funky bus smell.

Avoid 3rd-Party Agents

You’ll be pointed to dozens of third-party agents like and when you search for low fares and hotel rooms. Great. Learn all you can and should you come across a deal you are ready to book, go directly to that airline’s or hotel’s site and book direct. Why? Let’s say your flight is canceled. When you get in line to rebook using your existing ticket, you’ll be so angry when that airline’s reservations agent tells you to call that third party because the airline has no obligation to get you on the next flight. Been there, regretted that. Horribly. And getting a refund from that third party after being forced to buy a new ticket? Good luck.

Use ‘Em Don’t Lose ‘Em

There’s no advantage in holding on to frequent-flyer miles, as there’s no way of knowing whether they’ll be worth anything down the road. While all airlines seem to have a “life of the program” exit strategy (they can kill the program any time), miles typically expire within 18 months—though that deadline may be deferred if you keep your account active, either by flying or using an airline-reward credit card that is linked to your account). So get a free flight or golf clubs, electronics, magazines, or anything else the airline lets you trade miles for while you can.

Reserve a Seat

Always reserve a seat at the time of booking if you can. If the airline or booking agent won’t let you keep revisiting until you can. The longer the flight, the more attention you should pay to get a decent seat. Sites with detailed seat info include and Find the seating chart for your flight. Don’t like the seat options? Select one anyway, then check every spare minute to change it, including when you’re on the plane. Seats come available whenever a passenger cancels or fails to show up.

Pack Ear Plugs, Eye Mask

This travel tip should actually be first on the list. A good set of earplugs muffles the sounds of crying babies, drunk Australians, barking dogs, honking horns, and more—a traveler’s best friend. An eye mask will help ease jet lag as you adjust to a new time zone—both onboard and at your arrival.

Get Lost on Purpose

If you want to see the parts of town where real people live and work, go visit them. On foot. Without knowing exactly where you’re going. Write down the name of your hotel and inquire at the front desk areas of the city to avoid. you never know what amazing things you’ll find around the next corner. You can catch a taxi back if needed, then just pick a direction and start walking.


Bring your own everything! It’s safer than putting yourself at the airline’s mercy. Bring a travel pillow, a blanket or sweater, and headphones. And, of course, food. While onboard selections are iffy, assume the quality will be meager.

Patience Is Essential

Patience is my top travel tip. Don’t sweat what you cannot control. Life is much too short to travel while angry and annoyed. Did you miss your flight? No worries, there will be another one. ATM out of money? Great! Take an unplanned road trip to the next town to find another machine. Call it an unplanned adventure. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that it could be worse.

Question: What’s your favorite travel tip—by air, car, train, bus, ship, and when you reach your destination, too? Please share in the comments area below.



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  1. Mimi says:

    I hadn’t flown since 2005 but recently had a family emergency. I wore sandals and was disgusted to find out I had to take them off and be barefoot on that floor! I wore my shoes I brought on the return flight. A good tip I remembered was to bring an empty bottle, and once you clear security you can fill it. I drink a lot of water so that was a good tip for me.

  2. Andrew says:

    Checking luggage? Check one BIG bag rather than 2 small ones. And a unique big bag is less likely to get confused with common look-alike bags at baggage claim.

  3. Harriet says:

    Ladies: if you wear jewelry like necklaces and earring and you use the bathroom mirror to put them on. Either close the drain in the sink or put something over it to prevent losing an item down the drain.
    I use a large backpack as my carry on. I can put extra sleepwear, glasses, meds and other essentials using the zipper pockets inside and out. If I have a smaller purse, I can put that inside. I can wear the pack, keeping my hands free.
    Make and carry somewhere secure copies of passport, health insurance card, driver’s license, credit cards, vaccination cards. I also carry a copy of meds and health care directive.
    Call your credit card companies to let them know you’ll be using them wherever you travel out of your normal well. Safe travels.

    • Andrew says:

      Great ideas. Don’t take your really good jewels. Take tasteful costume jewelry. Also, take photos of all your documents and keep them on your phone. Health care directive, living will.

  4. BobW says:

    If you can, have your and your spouse’s credit cards with different names and numbers. When mine was “lifted” in Athens, we could cancel it (International collect call) and then use hers. Also, photocopy passport and all credit cards and keep in your “neck wallet.”

  5. Ann says:

    No matter what time of the day, we are leaving on vacation. I always put clean sheets on the bed before we leave.
    It’s so nice to come home to a nice, comfortable bed.
    Try it, you’ll like!!!

    • Andrew says:

      Great idea. Clean towels, too? I turn off my water heater. Save money, and better for the environment. Set the house a/c to 80 degrees.

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